Mission San Xavier del Bac Bells Toll to Celebrate San Francisco

by Sister Julie Ann on October 3, 2008

San Xavier Mission ChurchThe Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity begin this month of October with an account of the Feast of St. Francis celebrated at Mission San Xavier del Bac on the  Tohono O’odham Reservation, Tucson, AZ. As the month progresses, they will share happenings in ministry both at San Xavier School and Parish, as well as Santa Cruz School and Parish, Tucson, AZ.

Feel free to ask the six Sisters presently serving God’s people in the desert of Arizona any questions.  Comments are always welcome.

18 thoughts on “Mission San Xavier del Bac Bells Toll to Celebrate San Francisco”

  1. Sister Carla Riach says:

    Happy St Francis Day!
    Yes, this is a very important feast here on the Tohono O’odham Reservation. This evening we sisters, our Franciscan brothers and the local Third Order Chapter are gathering for the Transitus. Other Franciscan brothers and sisters in Tucson will also join us as we remember St. Francis’ passing from this life to eternal life.

    Following the prayer service we’ll join the San Xavier Community and “half of Tucson” in a procession around the Church grounds. You have to experience the procession to fully grasp it. As St. Francis’ statue is carried around there are choirs singing, bands playing, traditional singers singing, fireworks going off, Church bells ringing and dogs barking. Everyone and every creature join in honoring Francis.It’s exhilarating!

    Once we return into the Church several groups will seranade Francis. Then beginning with the Feast committee & Franciscans, everyone comes forward to touch Francis. A person explained it to me once that touching the saint is acknowleging his greatness and asking for his blessing. It is hoped that some of Francis’ goodness will rub off on us. I like that idea.

    Tonight’s procession is just the beginning. Rosaries will be prayed, food served and lots of dancing until 1:00 AM. Tomorrow there’ll be Mass at 10 AM followed by more praying, music, and feasting until tomorrow night when we have another procession, etc.

    As I pray and celebrate I’ll think of all of you. May the Lord bless you!
    Sister Carla

  2. Sister Carla, you described everything so well. Since I’ve been blessed to actually be at San Xavier for the feast, I hope you don’t mind if I ask you to report what kind of groups actually serenaded Francis this year?! I agree with you, the procession is the ultimate sensation.

  3. Greetings to our sisters in the Tucson area! Since I just spent some days with you last fall, I can picture the events from Sr. Carla’s vivid descriptions. Thank you!

    I’m curious about the foods shared at the feast. Does everyone bring things like a pot luck or is a group in charge of preparing the food? What kinds of food do you have?

    I appreciated knowing the symbolism of touching the statue of St. Francis.
    Happy Feastday to each of you!

  4. Sister Carla Riach says:

    Good Morning on the day after the Feast!
    Our Church still has a constant procession of pilgrims. This is my seventh year here at San Xavier and the number of pilgrims was much greater this year. The explanation for this is that the drug cartels in Mexico threatened to do violence at Magdalena on the feast. According to the paper today the pilgrims in Magdalena were down 50% because of this. The Tohono O’odham Nation warned the people not to go and many who were on their way turned back before reaching Magdalena. We have hundreds of people who walk from Tucson, Nogales or New Fields Village to Magdalena. It takes four days from Tucson and New Fields, about 2 and 1/2 from Nogales.I am awed by the faith and devotion of the people and the sacrifices they make when they pray.
    As an aside, the drug cartels did not do anything violent but because of their threats the people of Magdalena lost out economically and are now more suseptible to the drug business. It is very sad. St. Francis’ heart must surely ache as he was the greatest peacemaker next to Jesus.

    Now to answer a couple questions. This year we had two groups seranade Francis after the processions. One was the Church village choir of which I am a member and a local band. The band members played clarinette, drum, accordian and guitar. I missed a Mariachi group who always came, but I know there was a death in the leaders’ family this past week.

    We sisters went over for the feast at noon and got in on the end of the rosary being prayed by local prayers. The feasts here on the reservation always consist of the same basic menu. It includes red chili meat, pinto beans, potatoe salad, bread and tortillas, beef with garbonzo beans and cake. Sometimes there’ll be a lettuce salad and squash with corn and cheese. It is always delicious and served with graciousness.

    All afternoon there was a band playing, and as we live so near we were entertained. I enjoyed the music while I raked our patio and washed the car.

    Have a good day now. Hope to hear from you.
    Sister Carla

  5. Sister Mary Gabriel says:

    Hi I’m Sister Mary Gabriel, one of the six Sisters at San Xavier. This is my second year here – and although, at times, it is challenging I enjoy every minute of it! I am the librarian at both San Xavier Mission School and Santa Cruz School in Southern Tucson, spending every other week at each school.

    In an effort to promote reading and tie the upcoming elections together, each library is sponsoring a “Vote for Books” display. Each class will vote for their favorite book and these will be on display in the library.
    Tune in for results! They may be your favorite book also!

  6. Sister Mary Gabriel,

    What a great idea to vote for favorite books! I will be eager to see the titles of the top books.

    I just attended my nephew’s wedding yesterday and one of the other guests and I had an interesting conversation on the books we are reading and the type of books we enjoy reading. The joy of reading really enlivens the soul and broadens our world. Keep up the necessary work of opening others to the world of good literature!

  7. Sister Ellen says:

    Hi, my name is Sr. Ellen Pachmayer and I live with the Sisters at San Xavier mission but am the school counselor at Santa Cruz Catholic School in the heart of downtown Tucson,Az. It is about a 15-20 min. drive (depending on traffic) each day to get to Santa Cruz from San Xavier.

    Sister Carla mentioned the pilgrimage to Magdalena. The pilgramage is to honor both St. Francis of Asissi and also St. Francis Xavier. The reason pilgrams make this journey into Mexico to celebrate the feastday of San Xavier at this time instead of Dec. 3, the saints real feastday, is because the weather is nicer now and much colder in December. Father Kino’s bones are buried there. He was instrumental in starting some of the Mexican and Southwestern missions. The people have made this journey for many years and it is a part of their heritage.

    In order to help our students at Santa Cruz Catholic School get in touch with their Spanish roots, we had a mini pilgrimage on the grounds of Santa Cruz school. As the children walked around the playground they learned much information about St. Francis from Seventh graders who acted as instructors. We even had our own “border guards”, who were quite thorough at times! Each child made a passport in order to get through the gate. The pilgrimage culmunated in Church where Fr. Thomas and Matt Chavez talked about becoming saints.

    This area is very rich in culture and tradition, come and see for yourselves, we would love to have you. God bless you.
    Sister Ellen

  8. Sr. Ellen,
    I was happy to read your entry and learn about the mini pilgrimage and the events teaching about St. Francis. We had pet blessings at St. Raphael, Oshkosh, and St. Mary, Winneconne, but I really like the pilgrimage idea.
    We are having beautiful fall days here. It was 79 degrees when I went to church this morning. After a few frosts, we broke into these beautiful warm, sunny days. I think they are numbered, however.
    Sr. Pam and I participated in Francis’ care for the earth today by cleaning the yard, putting all the deceased flowers to rest in a compost barrel and welcoming the upcoming “feast” of Halloween followed by all Saints and All Souls Day. A few smiling pumpkins are scattered about.
    Happy Fall Days!

  9. Felicia Jaimez says:

    Hi to all the camper’s who went to Camp Francisans today we are having a get together at san xavier and we are celebrate the good times we had the wonderful people we met.

  10. Charmayne Enis says:

    Hello Campers!!!!
    How have you all been??? I’ve been good just getting through school. I’m a junior in high school so one more year til I graduate!!
    Well I just wanted to say HELLO!, and hope you are doing good!


  11. Candace Campus says:

    Hello everyone!!!!
    How you all doing???
    I am doing great just keeping my head in the books!!!


  12. Thanks for all the good sharing. It was thrilling to read the comments from the Camp Franciscan campers. Now, did you happen to get together with the Sisters for the feast of St.Francis?

  13. Sister Carla Riach says:

    Hi Everyone,
    Can you believe today we are running around in sweaters. It really got cool in the night. Our thermometer was at 40 this morning; one lady at Mass said it was 28 at her house. I think this is a short lived cold front passing through.
    Yesterday we had a lovely time with some of the Camp Franciscan participants from San Xavier and Santa Cruz. Everyone brought a dish to share and it turned into a feast. Natasha brought a Power Point production of her photos from camp for all to see. Great memories! The campers then shared something about camp and most shared about sisters they had met.
    We also had some door prizes, a video called Heritage of Hope about our community’s history. Then we prayed together our Evening Prayer.
    It was a short gathering but so much fun. I really enjoyed meeting parents and grandparents of the campers. What beautiful, faith filled people!
    Autumn Blessings to you all!
    Sister Carla

  14. Sister Leonette Kochan says:

    It was touching to hear the Tucson campers share their memories of camp, 2008,as we gathered them together on Sunday, because they named some of our sisters with whom they were able to connect or re-connect. Among the sisters named, from their Tucson experiences, were Srs. Myra Jean, Mary Jane Mertens, Valerie Lemansky,June Smith, and of course, from Lisette, Sister “Ictus” (Sr. Marie Verborny, with memories of the pottery piece they did at camp – the early Christian symbol of the fish.)
    We will send Lisette Gutierrez off to the Motherhouse on Friday, Oct. 17,to participate in the weekend discernment retreat. Please pray for the Spirit’s guidance for her, as we also pray for all of the young women coming to seek direction those days of prayer.

    Sister Leonette

  15. Sister Leonette Kochan says:

    It’s me again, Sister Leonette, principal at Santa Cruz Catholic School, Tucson. Those of us who serve at Santa Cruz live at San Xavier with the sisters who serve at the Mission.

    As a further explanation of our mini Magdalena pilgrimage at Santa Cruz, the event was an activity of our Kids Helping Kids (KHK) program at Santa Cruz. Once amonth our 8th grade students, each assigned to a small blend of students from grades PreK-7, lead their KHK group in a faith, fun or service activity. KHK has become a wonderful experience of community building in our school as well as a leadership opportunity for the 8th grade. They led the Magdalena pilgrimage, having been coached by our teachers, Andy DeCraene and Matt Chavez.
    The next KHK activity will be a T-shirt red, white and blue tie-dyeing event in preparation for election day. Students will wear the patriotic t-shirts as we pray together at Mass on election day and hold our school election. May the Lord bless our voting discernment process!

    Sister Leonette

  16. Sister Carla Riach says:

    Good Morning Everyone,
    It’s a wonderful fall day here in Tucson. Our pastor, Fr. Stephen Barnufski, used the occasion of Mission Sunday to speak about St. Paul. As you know the Pope has designated this year as the year of St. Paul. Paul was certainly a great missionary in spreading the Good News all through his known world.
    I believe God calls each of us to be missionaries also “in our known world” of school, home, work place, & neighborhood. We don’t have to be eloquent speakers or attractive people. (Paul was not a handsome fellow at all according to some accounts.) God will use us as we live our faith and make choices according to Jesus’ command to love God and neighbor.
    An elder in the village uses her watch that says the Our Father to get people’s attention. When someone is sharing their difficulties, she’ll remind them to pray and have them listen to her watch. Quite clever!
    One of my ministries here at San Xavier Mission is the RCIA program for adults preparing for sacraments. This year I have the largest class I’ve ever had-32. It’s scary and exciting all at once. I prepare as best I can and then I pray, because it is God who has to touch their hearts and reveal his love to them.
    May God bless all of you this week with many opportunities to let others know of God’s love for them.
    Sister Carla

  17. Julie (Ellis) Skoglund says:

    Hello to all & God Bless you for your service to God.
    This may not be the proper place but I am writing to try and get in touch with Sister Ellen Pachmayer. Sister Ellen was my music and art teacher at St. Joseph’s Catholic School in Rice lake WI in the 70’s. I feel driven to try and get in touch after recently finding a newspaper article my Mother had sent me a while back.
    Thank You & God Bless,
    Julie (Ellis) Skoglund

  18. Eric says:

    And this is the reason I read http://www.fscc-calledtobe.org. Surprising posts.

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